Monday, June 16, 2014

The Kilroys List 2014

Big news today from the New York Times about supporting women in theatre. Women playwrights to be exact. And with plays written by women comes more roles for women. Now that this list will be an annual occurrence, we can all rest easy knowing there's a central location to find great work by, for, and about women in the country. And then, you know, PRODUCE IT.

I had a long talk today about the way of the world of theatre outside Seattle, and it really got my brain churning on the things I've been becoming complacent about. One of those things is just the act of starting a conversation. To have a dialogue with professionals and peers about our theatre culture and where we want to take it.

I have these discussions, but not as often as I should, and certainly not for as long as I should. I'm missing a challenge and a dream, and I'm going to spend my summer finding where it's at.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Some recent ramblings

I've been auditioning a lot more, recently--getting back into the swing of things and keeping my feet wet. Though I'm taking the summer season off, I will be doing one last performance before my 'vacation' this Friday night!

After that, I plan on seeing shows, possibly taking some classes, and visiting some new markets to see what other American cities consider 'great theatre'! It's an exciting time.

Shows I've seen recently:
1. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
2. Don Juan in Chicago
3. Chaos Theory
4. End Days
5. Returning to Albert Joseph
6. The Lisbon Traviata
7. Truth Like the Sun
8. Gone Wild
9. Spin the Bottle

Writing that out makes me realize I've been seeing a lot of theatre recently--and it feels great! These are from the last two months or so, and on my budget I'd say that's pretty good for me. I can do better!

I haven't written in a while mostly because there's been a lot of social/cultural happenings taking front stage. Shootings, #yesallwomen, landslides, trips. It's been a busy time and I've been attempting to stay present to process everything. I have some great links I'd like to share at another time when I've compiled my list. For now, I can say that I've been looking a lot more carefully at the work that I want to do, and how I want to focus my energy, and what message I want to give.  If you haven't had the opportunity to read the yes all women hashtag page on Twitter, I would encourage you to do so.

I've helped Theatre22 open their first Summer Pride Series show. I've helped Annex Theatre pick their newest season of shows. I've written and performed in Studio4Seattle's newest reading series. I've been keeping busy artistically, and it's nice to be dipping my hand in some pots that I don't normally have the opportunity to.

In other news the trailer for my web series House of Glass has been released! You can watch it here!

The series should be premiering this summer! I should have enough footage soon to finish my reel and that will be great. When I get back from the summer, I want to take off running. I've got big plans for the year ahead!

Friday, May 9, 2014

New Look Coming Soon

It's been a busy Spring! At Studio4Seattle we've been working on writing and reading plays based around the theme 'what is art to you?' I even wrote one! Now we've put together a reading and our plays will be performed for the public. I love Studio4 events because they're never just one thing. We'll be doing readings, artists will be making art real time, musicians will be playing, and everyone will be mingling. There's really no better way to get artists together in one room and inspire them to keep creating!

If you're in the area and able--please come! It's open to anyone and everyone that wants someone to hold them accountable for continuing to practice their art.

I've also been auditioning a lot lately. Now that the summer theatre auditions are over and everything has been cast, all the theatres are auditioning for their next season! It's always an exciting time of year, and it's been fun to be auditioning more again. I've done 5 or 6 in the last two weeks, and that's a great place to be in. It also makes me realize it's time for me to make time to go back to class! Any class. Every class. I'm itching to jump back in.

The biggest news of last month is that I got NEW HEADSHOTS by the talented John Galfano! I have a whole story to tell you all on that end--but I'm going to wait until my agent and I have picked them and they've been retouched. I'll be revamping the blog and my website, so stay tuned for a new look coming from yours truly! I really can't wait to share the pictures with you all. They're by far the best headshots I've ever taken! I'll also be writing a whole post about why everyone should search for a photographer like John. But honestly, I think the pictures will speak for themselves.

Theatre22 has been hard at work. Rehearsals have started for the 2nd show in our season, and we're gearing up for summer pride time! The weather has been getting more and more bearable, lifting everyone's spirits.  I've been having a blast working for this fantastic company, and I'm learning a lot of great skills to be used in my future should I ever choose to run a business of any sort. Can I say--it's a lot harder than it looks! But these talented and dedicated folks make it all run so smoothly.

I've also received the incredibly exciting news recently that everything I've ever filmed in Seattle will premiere this summer! I'm rejoicing not so much because I can't wait to see my footage (I'm actually very nervous about that) but because this will be the summer that I can FINALLY make a reel! One commercial, two movies, and one 5 episode web series will be coming my way! I'm especially stoked for all of the stunt and combat work I should be able to get out of the footage. I'd love to continue to be cast for very physical roles, and hopefully this will help!

Slow and steady I feel like I'm heading towards a great fall season of theatre and film.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fundraising, teaching, acting, and how to be a woman

I've done quite a few things in the last few weeks. One of the most important is I got a job! I'm no longer unemployed after my last acting contract. I had a big push from my agent and friends to go on unemployment. I learned a little about taking unemployment as an actor through my Nuts and Bolts class in college. While I recognize it can be a necessary if an actor is wanting to survive mostly on acting, and could quite possibly find a new acting job soon that will put them under a paying contract, it just didn't seem right to me in my situation.

When I think of unemployment, I think of the people who need it. I didn't need it. I'm fully capable of finding myself another job (which I have now) and I certainly don't need anymore time to sit on my couch to collect a paycheck. I'm very happy being up on my feet again!

I attended a TPS meet'n'greet the last week of March to discuss how the generals went, and how the organization Theatre Puget Sound can aide us as actors. It wasn't a very informative meeting for me because they spent a lot of time telling us about the organization, which most every actor in this region already knows plenty about. TPS gives the Seattle theatre community rehearsal spaces, audition spaces, an organized team to set up appointments, an annual general audition, and a website to find and post audition notices, open forums, and personal theatre artist pages with credentials. It's a beautiful thing.  In the small time I stayed for the meeting though, we did discuss the market here and the advantages and disadvantages of having so much theatre in a small place, and we discussed the general consensus between paid and unpaid theatre work. The opinion wasn't decided when I left, but I hope to bring it up again in another forum.

Here is the auditor survey from this year's TPS general audition. There's a lot of great advice from those watching the auditions about what pieces to pick or not pick, how to walk into a room, and how to be prepared overall. Personally, it sounds like they were underwhelmed and it makes me a little frustrated with the theatre community here. If people aren't trained to audition well in school, then there has to be more audition prep availability in the city (as there would be in larger markets with theatre studios and private classes) to help improve an auditioner's audition. Personally, I've taken private classes and studio classes here. But there aren't many to take and I think it shows here that it's hurting the actors in the end. Many actors I know just don't think they need to be ongoing students of the art, and I think that attitude is another factor in poor auditions. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Theatre22's Party went off without a hitch! We had a wonderful time sharing our first fundraiser with our stellar donors, company members, and other interested folk. I ran my first professional silent auction, and I know so much about what not to do next time. Not that it didn't go really well--it did! But I now know a more flawless design and layout, as well as what questions need to be asked in advance. It's always about asking the right questions. I also feel great having some fundraising experience under my belt. I had know idea that it would be something I enjoyed so much. I really loved being the point person, obtaining all the information, and getting to do things exactly how I wanted them. Control freak? Me? It was also wonderful to be publicly announced as a staff member and artistic associate, and I can't wait for what's coming up next for this fantastic company. We're getting a space this next year, and the new season will be coming out soon!

In other news, I attended a teaching artist forum last night at Freehold Theatre (a local theatre that holds studio classes for further education). It was stunningly uninformative for a teaching artist, but I'm sure was very informative for those who are not yet teaching artists. I wish they would have polled their audience to ask how many of each kind they had, because in the end I didn't learn much. What I did learn was that there are many valuable and passionate teaching artists in this city that truly believe in the work they do. This work is not just about performing plays, but about instilling literacy, confidence, an understanding of vulnerability, and the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes. I learned a lot about what should be part of a teaching artist's curriculum.

I've bought tickets to see a new show tonight about women in our society. How are women viewed? Why is beauty so intermingled with what it means to be a woman? How can we ensure that the women of the future are valued for more than an ideal of what a woman should be?

If you are so inclined, and have the time, I've linked three incredibly insightful articles about these subjects. The last is about the project I'm seeing tonight, and I listed it last because, while the subject matter is pertinent to this discussion, the article itself is not incredibly in depth and speaks more towards the show itself. Give yourself a break and take a look at these pieces by women about body image and how to move forward in this ridiculous society we've built. You'll have to copy and paste the link because blogger doesn't like to link things itself.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Studio4Seattle: You are a Wonder

Every Tuesday I attend a play reading group. I've been part of this group since its inaugural meeting around this time last year, and every time I go I come away with the most amazing feeling.  This group is called Studio4Seattle , and honestly it's much much more than a play reading group. It's an open forum and meeting for playwrights, directors, actors, painters, singers, musicians, and artists of all types to meet and inspire each other to be creative. It helps us stretch and grow, and above all, to not become complacent. It's an encouraging atmosphere where every person has the opportunity to have a voice and be involved, but never has to feel the pressure of having to participate.

The group changes weekly. New people come, busy people don't. But everyone seems to come back again and again as time allows, and I believe that's because we've all stumbled upon (or possibly created) something incredibly special. There's a trust to conceive new ideas that I haven't found among other groups in this city, and we're all guided by the amazing David Nail who facilitates this trust with his vision for an artist collective.

This week we read adaptations (or maybe I should say 'arrangements') of a script previously produced in Florida, but originally written in England. It is a script that can be written for any number of actors and we've taken to playing around with how the story is changed by changing the number of characters and which lines they say. This is just one of the many exercises and experiments that I have had the fortune to be a part of.

I don't know how to stress this enough, but being an actor (or any type of artist) is hard. All professions are, in their own way. But one of the struggles of an actor is to consistently find work, to be working, to be seen and heard. And sometimes it's impossible to work based on type and demand. But one thing we can all do to make things easier for ourselves, is to create our own work. But this too, can be extremely challenging. A lot of the time it's difficult to feel inspired, to give yourself permission to take the time to create, or to feel motivated to create when you feel like you don't have time. EVERYONE should find an outlet that helps them feel inspired--because it is truly the most fulfilling and motivational feeling.

I urge all artists to push themselves to create, create, create, and if you can help yourself by including yourself in groups like these--do it. Don't be afraid. Make the time. And give yourself permission.

I'm so grateful for Studio4, and for the way I get to feel every Tuesday night after speaking and working with other artists who help to motivate me. It's such a beautiful experience.

My question to you: How do you motivate yourself? How do you make time for yourself?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I'm Having a Party!

There are so many things to celebrate recently that I feel like I need to make a list! We know how much I love lists.

1. I'm the newest artistic associate for a wonderful Seattle theatre company called Theatre22. What does that mean? It means I get to learn from the best of the best how to run a small theatre company that wants to grow bigger. Paid staff? Equity contracts? A cool new space? Check it off the list folks, Theatre22 is here to stay.

2. Theatre22 is having a PARTY, and I want to share it with you! April 5. Come join the fun of celebrating this great new company. Did I mention there's a silent auction with fabulous gifts? And I'll be running it. So, seriously, go buy your tickets.

3. This Seattle casting site has listed my page of Headshot Photographers on their site. I mean...I feel famous. Or just really organized. And there's no reason for everyone to make their own list when mine is right up there on that navigation bar. Need new headshots? Click it!

4. The sun is out.

5. Have I mention that I'm the Development Director for Annex Theatre? That's the Gregory Award Winning Theatre of the Year for 2013. And they're about to start taking submissions for next year's season of brand new work. So get your playscripts in!

6. BIG auditions coming up. It's generals season, and I've just finished my first 'Equity Day' audition with TPS (thanks Book-It for the union status change!), and up next are the Village Generals and then Seattle Children's. Can you say time for some fun?

7. The sun is still out.

8. Thanks to a fantastic run of Frankenstein and my current unemployment status, I've been able to spend more quality time on me and the direction I want to go next. I'm looking forward to the research.

So basically, life is a party and everything is going really well in the world of Seattle.

The Play that was Frankenstein

I started writing a few times during the production of Frankenstein. As my first 'professional'(I hate that word) experience, it seemed like I needed to write about it. I needed to get my thoughts out there in the world. But I was entirely too close to the experience, and there was a lot going on.

Instead, I'm writing about it now! Let me begin with why I hate the word 'professional' in relation to theatre. Since moving to Seattle two and a half years ago, I consider most of the work I've done professional. I graduated with a theatre degree from an amazing institution, moved here, and within six months was being paid for my work. I was offered so much work I had to begin turning it down within eight months. I started being called in for auditions by people who had seen me or heard of me by the end of my first year. All of that sounds great within that context, but I suppose the difference is in perspective. I wanted to see all my work as 'professional'. That is the level I aspired to be working at, and I was certain it was the level I was working at.

Then I got cast at Book-It Repertory Theatre. I was offered an hourly wage instead of a stipend. I worked enough hours for that wage to pay my bills. Suddenly, people that hadn't known my name were seeing me on a much larger stage working with a well-known company, and those people that had 'called me in' suddenly seemed like friends I went to play in the sandbox with. Granted--that's how I felt for much of the run. Wide-eyed, plucked from obscurity, and thrust into center stage so to speak. But I want to be clear, that in no way did I ever feel suddenly important. I did, however, suddenly recognize the difference between the work I had been doing thus far, and the work I was now being able to do.

The professionalism of my process and my ability was no different, but I was certainly affected deeply by the breadth of talent and experience surrounding me. The wealth of knowledge that comes from working with a company and a cast of theatre professionals who have made it their career and their lifestyle to work solely for theatres who profit from their shows, run smoothly on grants and a donor database, and are considered as known on a national scale was a completely different experience than just getting paid to do my work. That is how I used to consider professional theatre. If I was being paid in any capacity, I was doing well for myself. I was respected enough to earn some sort of profit, and my time was not being wasted. I suppose I had to have that mindset to continue to push myself forward. It was my way of being positive and optimistic about where I was in my career, and gave me that ability to continue to strive towards something. In a sense, the stipend work was the stepping stone to something greater, but it was also great in itself. I still be believe that a lot of fringe theatres do professional work or have a professional process. But having the operating budget, audience, and space is as important to the process of professional theatre as picking the right director.

Now I understand a lot more, and while I consider all the work I've done professional, I consider the theatre that I just ended a contract with a much more professional experience than any I've had the pleasure of working before!

I've had a fortunate year of professional work! Getting cast in a SAG film, and getting cast in a theatrical production that offered me EMC (Equity Membership Candidate) was not an opportunity I expected to have all in the same year. But I'm counting my blessings and moving forward in the hopes of more good fortune!

What I learned from Frankenstein:
1. Daytime rehearsals are the best thing to ever happen to a theatre graduate. It's everything you've ever wanted and dreamed of and hoped for. When you wake up in the morning and realize that going to work means going to do what you love for the day--that is a special kind of amazing.
2. Sometimes you have the astounding opportunity to work with a phenomenal director who happens to have the magical ability to choose a cast that gets along so well that it's unbelievable. That's how I felt anyway.
3. Every day is a new experience. One day of rehearsal for a new work (world premiere play) can be completely dedicated to one three page scene. This scene may get rewritten five times in one day. Yes, you must know and remember all the line changes. But you must also bring something new every time you do the scene.
4. I had the distinct fortune to work with a director who was also the adapter. This meant that when I, as an actor, felt something off about the scene, we were able to work together to create a different word choice or a completely new line if needed. I had the most amazing time because the director allowed me as an actor to try a scene ten different ways and still never told me that I had to pick one yet.  This rehearsal process was the most freeing and creative experience I've had since college. I could come in and create anything, and if was stupid we'd scratch it, and if it was great--we'd try it again in that direction, just to see what happened next.
5. Safety and trust are the key to every great theatrical experience.
6. Bagels make you rehearse better.
7. Sometimes you will hate a costume piece. It will look fantastic, and will be exactly what everyone wants--but it will impede your ability to do a scene the way you've been rehearsing for five weeks. It doesn't matter. You'd better figure out how to make it work--and like it.
8. Sometimes it takes 23 years of your life until you are allergic to every kind of chapstick, and even if you desperately need that chapstick to survive a show in which you kiss someone in every scene you're in--thou shalt not use chapstick. And you will survive. Albeit, with chapped lips.
9. An all women's dressing room is something I have not experienced since highschool. It was grand!
10. Corsets are your friend. You must learn to breathe and move as one. And you must never eat before a show in which you must bend in your corset, because vomit is a real thing. See our promotional video here.
11. Enjoy every single day like it is the last day you will have the opportunity to do what you love for a living. Treat everyone with respect. Never be afraid to make a big bold choice. Always check in with your fellow actors, and don't be selfish. Love those you work with, and appreciate the work that is being done around you. Let it affect you and move you and take it with you when you are done, for it will help you move forward toward another great experience.

A list of reviews:
The Curtain and the Monster
The Stranger, 2/26/14
Nowhere to Hide at Frankenstein
Mode is Fashion, 2/21/14
Book-It conjures ‘Frankenstein’
Seattle Times, 2/21/14

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Frankenstein: It's a Play About Chapstick

It's been almost 3 years since I spent an entire day dedicated to rehearsing theatre that wasn't a weekend. It's been almost 3 years since I could call my job acting. It's been almost 3 years since I've felt as completely fulfilled as I have for the last 4 weeks.

I get to wake up every day and do what I love and nothing else. Now that's not to say that I shouldn't be doing something else on the side. I'd certainly be making more money. But I wanted to know what it would feel like to only do theatre. It makes me feel poor in money, but rich in soul. It's a truly beautiful thing.

The reason it's so beautiful is because I've been given the gift of an extraordinarily brave cast. Everyday we go to new places to uncover the heart of this amazing piece of literature. There's something incredibly redeeming about the characters in Frankenstein--their hope, perseverance through despair, and the ability to know love. It's one of the most challenging plays I've come across because of the sheer depth of the story. It's written to show every up and down because the plot is centered around love. I highly recommend rereading the book before coming to see this one. It will only enhance the play.

Now I've been MIA for a few months, and it's because I've been busy with this show. You'd think after a month of rehearsals I'd have a lot to say--and I do! But I don't want to say half of it for fear of ruining your personal reaction to the piece.

I will say that for me it has been a month of 'profound labor', as Victor Frankenstein would say. A month of death and despair. A month of love and discovery. But mostly it's been a month of chapstick. If you're interested in experiencing the amount of chapstick I've bought and used in the last month, I encourage you to come watch the show, opening February 15thRemember to imagine running the scenes multiple times in one day and I'm sure you'll understand soon enough.

If you want to take a look at some promotional footage, you can see it here.

I can say that there hasn't been a single moment I haven't been having fun. And I couldn't be more excited to be opening soon and giving this show to the audiences of Seattle. It's been a great gift to have worked so hard with such a talented cast and crew, and I hope to do it many more times here and many other places.  This show has retaught me what theatre is all about, and how important an experience it is to live through.

In other news, I've also seen a lot of shows and movies recently!
1. The Equation by Theatre 9/12
2. Black Like Us by Annex Theatre
3. A Great Wilderness by Seattle Rep
4. The Hounds of the Baskerville by Seattle Rep (which I saw in December but don't think I mentioned)
5. The Foreigner by Village Theatre

Of course, now that I'm not doing Fringe theatre I suddenly understand how unavailable an actor becomes when you want to see your friends' shows. Because of my crazy rehearsal schedule I can't catch everything I want to. But I'm so happy to have so many successful friends who are taking this theatre town by storm! Congratulations to everyone on their shows!